Canary Wharf owner rebuffs second Qatari bid

Canary Wharf Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Songbird has a property portfolio in London worth £5.5bn

The company that owns the majority stake in London's business district, Canary Wharf, has rebuffed a sweetened £2.6bn takeover deal from a Qatari-led consortium.

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Canada's Brookfield Property Partners raised their "final" offer to Songbird Estates from £2.2bn a month ago.

Songbird owns 69% of Canary Wharf Group.

In total, it owns property worth £5.5bn in the capital.

Among the other properties Songbird owns are the "Walkie Talkie" building at 20 Fenchurch Street in the City.

It comes after QIA and Brookfield took their new joint all-cash bid directly to shareholders on Thursday.

Responding to the offer Songbird said: "The board believes the offer from QIA and Brookfield does not reflect the full value of the company, its unique position and future growth potential."

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  • Cheesegrater - Estimated Value: £850m


    Based at 122 Leadenhall Street, the building is owned by Oxford Properties, a Canadian real estate investor and developer, and British Land.

    Mike Rayner, head of development at Oxford Properties described the building as a “trophy asset” which the company was “proud to own”.

  • Tower 42 - Estimated Value: £400m


    Built in the 1980s, Tower 42 is owned by The Kirsh Group, a company chaired by South African billionaire Nathan Kirsh, and the 42-storey building contains offices, a gym, a restaurant and a champagne bar.

    Philip Lewis, the group’s head of real estate, said: “People have become familiar with it. It’s in the background on the news, it’s on postcards and sketches of the London skyline.”

  • Heron Tower - Estimated Value: £400m


    The 755ft (230m) tower is one of the tallest buildings in the City of London, containing bars, restaurants and Britain’s largest, privately-owned aquarium.

    It is owned by property investment company the Heron Group, and spokesman Henry Columbine said: “Its breath-taking panoramic vistas have made the tower a much talked-about London destination.”

  • The Gherkin - Estimated Value: £650m


    Seen by many as an iconic symbol of 21st Century London since its opening, The Gherkin is to be sold for the second time in its 10-year history.

    Brazilian investment group Safra is set to purchase the building for £726m, and said in a statement: 'While only 10 years old, this building is already a London icon that is distinguished from others in the market, with excellent value growth potential.'

  • One Canada Square (Canary Wharf) - Estimated Value: £679.4m


    The building is owned by the Canary Wharf Group. It was the tallest building in the UK until The Shard was built.

    “It is seen as the main symbol for the entire development here at Canary Wharf,” say its owners.

  • BT Tower - Estimated Value: £150m (land value only)


    The tower, as its name would suggest, is owned by BT. Suzi Williams, one of the company’s directors, said: “It’s an icon, an instantly recognisable symbol of communications and technology.

    “It was built 50 years ago to connect London to the rest of the country and it is still doing that today as a major hub of communications and broadcasting.”

  • Big Ben (and the Houses of Parliament) - Estimated Value: £900m


    Big Ben’s “real name” is, in fact, the Elizabeth Tower. The title to it and the surrounding buildings, including the Palace of Westminster, is held by the Queen as sovereign.

    A spokesperson said Big Ben is “one of the greatest landmarks in the world and part of a Unesco World Heritage Site”.

  • London Eye - Estimated Value: £50m (land value only)


    The Eye is owned and managed by Merlin Entertainments, which also owns attractions like Madame Tussauds.

    “It offers a unique view of London,” said a spokesperson. “It is also a wonderful example of what London does so well which is to juxtapose stunning modern architecture alongside iconic historic buildings.”

  • St Paul's Cathedral - Estimated Value: £300m (land value only)


    The cathedral is not owned by the Church of England, as perhaps would be expected. Instead the title deeds are held in trust by the Corporation of the Cathedral.

    “It effectively means it wouldn’t be possible to sell it,” said Oliver Caroe, surveyor of the fabric of St Paul’s. “We are here to sustain St Paul’s and make it viable to serve as a central and iconic place of faith.”

  • The Shard - Estimated Value: £2bn


    The Shard is owned by Sellar in partnership with the State of Qatar. Standing at 1,017ft (310m), the 87-storey building is the tallest, occupiable skyscraper in Western Europe, say its owners.

    “We believe it has caught the public’s imagination and has been a fantastic addition to London’s skyline,” a spokesperson said.

  • Walkie Talkie - Estimated Value: £800m


    Due to open in 2015, the Walkie Talkie has been constructed by property developers Land Securities and the Canary Wharf Group.

    The 38-storey building at 20 Fenchurch Street will include a mixture of commercial and retail premises, plus a 'sky garden' set over the top three floors of the building.

The company pointed out the adjusted net value of its assets was 381p a share, compared with the current offer of 350p a share from the consortium.

QIA, which recently bought HSBC's head office in Canary Wharf, owns Harrods and Chelsea Barracks and has a 29% stake in Songbird.

The emirate is also behind the Shard skyscraper, through a separate vehicle.

Canary Wharf is preparing to start work on two major developments: a 60-storey tower with the first residential property on the estate and a 20-acre waterside site with 3,100 homes and office buildings, as well as a school and more shops.

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